Bundesliga back at full capacity as DFL announces losses
April 1, 2022
Football stadiums in Germany returned to full capacity this weekend after two years of pandemic-related restrictions. Though risks remain, it is good news for clubs who have suffered losses in their matchday revenue.
While Borussia Dortmund couldn't get the result they wanted against RB Leipzig, the club was able to open its doors to fans again following months of COVID-19 restrictions that kept fans away.
"Our captain, Marco Reus, has been walking through the dressing room with an enchanted smile for days. We can look forward to a great atmosphere and want to use that to our advantage," Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans Joachim-Watzke said ahead of Saturday's game against RB Leipzig.
Before kick off, Dortmund's team and staff went over to The Südtribüne, the famous southern stands nicknamed the Yellow Wall, and applauded the 24,000 standing fans. Erling Haaland had a big smile on his face.
"In these 24 months, it was very difficult to keep in touch between the club and the fans," Watzke said. "For this reason alone, Saturday will be a special day for us," adding that the thought gave him "goosebumps."
Champions Bayern Munich will welcome back 75,000 fans to the Allianz Arena when they host Augsburg. The last time they had a full stadium was November 2021.
In the capital, Union Berlin sold out their 22,012 tickets for the home game against Cologne at the Stadion an der Alten Försterei. The last time they played a full capacity game was on November 20, 2021 against local rivals Hertha BSC.
The new rules mean that Hertha would be able to sell out the 74,475 seats of the Olympic Stadium for the return leg of the derby on April 9.
Empty stadiums and lost revenue
Like most of Europe's top clubs, German clubs have seen a loss in revenue from matchday ticket sales and hospitality under the pandemic restrictions.
"Over the past two years, the pandemic has already had a dramatic economic impact on the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2. Sadly, it is also affecting the current season — primarily because, once again, the stands often had to remain empty," new DFL CEO Donata Hopfen said.
But the club is looking on the bright side as the fans return. "You can tell that people are still interested in Borussia Dortmund," said CEO Watzke. "I'm very happy about that, even if it will take time for things to return to normal."
Mass gatherings risk further spread
Since Germany is not entirely coronavirus free, the return of full-capacity stadiums still carries a risk of spreading the virus.
According to the Robert Koch Institute, there were more than 1.3 million cases of COVID-19 recorded in Germany over the past week, with 129,695 deaths in the country since the pandemic started in March 2020.
Federal states are still able to make their own rules in the case of new mass infections, but large lockdowns are not expected to be implemented.
Though many clubs are still insisting on 3G rules, meaning that returning fans must have been vaccinated, tested or recovered — in addition to wearing masks in zones where safe distancing is not achievable — at least three Bundesliga clubs are scrapping all restrictions this weekend: Union Berlin, Eintracht Frankfurt and Augsburg.